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Must you be a U.S. citizen to own a business in New York?

Since childhood, you've had the dream of becoming a successful business owner. Coupled with that dream is another that includes emigrating to New York to build a new life for yourself and your family. Your business dreams reach far beyond your country of origin as well. In fact, you're hoping that, by investing in a U.S. business opportunity, it will help you secure a green card.

Such scenarios are often possible, yet more times than not are wrought with complications. Many people mistakenly believe you must be a U.S. citizen to own a business in America, but that is simply not true. There may be certain restrictions or regulations that apply to you as a non-citizen business investor, of which you'll want to be aware before getting your feet wet.

Ever hear of green cards through investments?

Some countries offer citizenship to people who invest in their economies. In the United States, there is a program known as "green cards through investments" that allows something similar to occur. Here are the basic facts of this particular program:

  • Each fiscal year, up to 10,000 visas are available to prospective entrepreneurs interested in obtaining valid permanent residence in the United States.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are able to grant conditional permanent residence to U.S. business investors of $1 million or more. This includes the business owner, a spouse and any children under age 21, as long as they're unmarried.
  • In areas where the unemployment rate is high, the investment requirement lowers to $500,000.
  • Businesses in the United States incorporate at the state level. Many foreign investors are attracted to Delaware and Nevada because they are low-burden states.

Some say it's better to incorporate your business in the state you plan to operate. As a non-resident, you may face complications regarding international tax laws, bank accounts and/or obtaining a visa. Business owners often say the United States appeals to them as a home base because it is very market-friendly.

Whether you're in the earliest phases of your plans to open a business in New York, or have been in business for a decade or more and are currently facing a problem that seems difficult to resolve, you can reach out for support from a business law attorney experienced in immigration-related matters.

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